Conducting Participatory Action Research with Apartheid Survivors: Lessons from ‘Addressing Socioeconomic Drivers of Violence in Khulumani Communities’
Sishuba, Yanelisa, Sindiswa Nunu, Nompumelelo Njana, Agnes Ngxukuma, Brian Mphahlele and Jasmina Brankovic. 2017. Conducting Participatory Action Research with Apartheid Survivors: Lessons from ‘Addressing Socioeconomic Drivers of Violence in Khulumani Communities’. Cape Town: Khulumani Support Group Western Cape and Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
In 2015-2016, the apartheid survivors’ organisation Khulumani Support Group in the Western Cape (KSGWC) and its partner the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) set out to explore new ways for a victims’ group and a nongovernmental organisation to work together on addressing socioeconomic exclusion in the context of political transition. Seeking to deepen their levels of collaboration, to foreground the knowledge and solutions of KSGWC members and to leave KSGWC with concrete outcomes beyond a research publication, the partners decided to use the participatory action research methodology in studying KSGWC members’ understandings of how inequality and poverty drive violence in post-apartheid South Africa. They found that social transformation in the present requires redress for abuses in the past. This report outlines the process of designing and implementing the project, from project development and fundraising, to data collection and collaborative writing up of research findings, and finally to strategic planning, tailored trainings and KSGWC’s development of a five-year plan and a new advocacy project. It reflects on the challenges and benefits of the participatory approach and offers some ‘lessons learnt’ for practitioners designing a similar project, particularly when working with members of social movements and victims’ groups on complex and sensitive topics.